University Communication is putting a new twist on how Nebraska Today delivers stories about our state’s flagship university and the students, faculty and staff who flourish here.
We’ve thrown our microphones into the ring with Faculty 101, a podcast series that delivers regular insights — some serious, others silly — into the work and lives of Husker faculty.
This week, host Mary Jane Bruce chats with Isabel Velázquez, associate professor of modern languages and literatures.
Velázquez shares her perspectives on language, which she compares to oxygen – “We don’t miss it until we don’t have it” – and a resource worthy of stewardship and investment. She also discusses how acquiring new languages can sustain a viable workforce by helping Nebraska graduates connect and compete with multilingual professionals across the globe.
Delving into her research, Velázquez explains the importance of understanding how and why families maintain their native languages – including Velázquez’s, Spanish – even when living in communities where few others speak those languages. She then describes the kinship she feels with other Nebraskans, whether of Czech or German or Russian ancestry, who have contributed to the rich linguistic heritage of the state.
A native of Baja California, the self-described “Nebraxican” later details how her time as a journalist covering violence in northern Mexico and a short story titled “The Tale of the Unknown Island” inspired her to pursue a career in academia. Velázquez concludes by voicing the fulfillment she gets from working with young people in the classroom: “I tell my students, ‘I teach for free. They pay me to grade.’”
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